Out of sight, in an ENAC (French National School of Civil Aviation) workshop, we watched the final adjustments being carried out before the Volta’s first flight. This all-electric helicopter, capable of flying at 90 mph (150 km/h), will take to the air in less than two weeks from the Muret aerodrome, near Toulouse (south western France).
For Aquinea, the company who have been working on the project since 2009, this is not only a positive outcome of their hard work, but also a dream come true, because this is the first 100% electrically powered and manned conventional helicopter.
Its energy is provided by a 330 lb (160 kg) lithium battery, located at the rear of the aircraft, to give 20 to 30 minutes of flight autonomy, according to the helicopter’s flight conditions.
Being greener, quieter and less expensive to use and maintain, the advantages of a 100% electric helicopter are many. To carry out this project, Aquinea has the help of several partners, notably ENAC who developed the avionics. This Human-Computer Interaction was specifically designed for an electrical aircraft, and indicates the battery temperature and minimum voltage.
The Volta is a demonstrator, having no intention of being marketed as is. It is merely the first step towards a 100% electric two-seater helicopter destined for leisure or flight schools. In order to achieve that, it will have to have its inflight autonomy doubled. A "Volta 2", sold on the market for around 200,000 euros, will therefore depend mainly on battery progress in the coming years.